Opinion

Kristin Collum has the potential to become an influential leader in Idaho

Kristin Collum, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, talks to delegates at the Idaho Democratic Party State Convention.
Kristin Collum, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, talks to delegates at the Idaho Democratic Party State Convention. kjones@idahostatesman.com

No matter who prevails in the lieutenant governor’s race on Nov. 6, the winner will make Idaho history as the first woman ever to serve in the post.

That’s significant because the job is often a stepping-stone to greater leadership positions. The current lieutenant governor, Brad Little, is running for governor this year.

So it’s important to pick someone with the potential to become an influential leader in Idaho. We believe that person is Kristin Collum.

Collum, the Democrat, is a self-described “school lunch kid,” meaning she comes from humble beginnings. Her current bearing reflects that modest touch.

But Collum has done big things in her career. She’s a U.S. Army veteran who worked on the staff of Gen. Colin Powell in the Pentagon. After leaving the military, she held executive positions with technology companies Micron, Hewlett-Packard and Xylem.

And although not a native, she has lived in Idaho for the past 21 years and is devoted to the state.

Her opponent is Republican Janice McGeachin, a former lawmaker who served as District 32 representative from 2002 to 2012.

The major difference between the two candidates is their position on Proposition 2, the ballot measure that would expand Medicaid coverage to an additional 62,000 Idahoans. These are folks who make too much money now to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to buy policies on Idaho’s health insurance exchange. At least initially, 90 percent of the cost would be paid for by the federal government.

Collum supports the proposition as a means of insuring Idaho families while a longer-term solution is sought. She circulated petitions to get Prop 2 on next month’s ballot.

McGeachin now opposes Prop 2, and pressed the state Republican Party to pass a resolution of opposition at its state convention.

But McGeachin has not offered a credible alternative plan for tending to the health of Idaho’s uninsured. While citing the cost of Medicaid expansion, she does not factor the impact on health care costs of the uncovered liability that hospitals face in treating those without coverage. Those costs are ultimately passed on to patients with insurance.

This isn’t a single-issue race, however.

The reason to pick Collum over McGeachin is that the former takes more of a pragmatic, consensus-building approach to problem solving. She is not an ideologue. What she’s after are solutions, not adherence to a partisan platform.

In her editorial board interview with the Statesman, Collum set aside any concerns about her lack of political experience by providing common-sense, well-thought-out answers to our questions. She impressed with her knowledge of the issues facing Idaho, particularly cybersecurity, which she dealt with both in the military and in the private sector.

Her technology experience will serve Idaho well as it modernizes the state’s computer systems.

Most importantly, she is someone who understands the value of listening, and of compromise. In these times of hard partisan line drawing, it will be refreshing to have someone in the Capitol willing to reach across the aisle.

We endorse Kristin Collum for lieutenant governor.

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